When it comes to fishing, nobody is sitting on the fence. You either love it or hate it. To some, fishing can be an experience that delivers both extreme excitement and soothing relaxation. To city boys like me, waiting to get a bite is one of the most excruciatingly boring activities I have ever endured. I get particularly confused by the idea of catching and releasing fish. Like with so many topics in life, Mitch Hedberg said it best: "You know when they have a fishing show on TV? They catch the fish and then let it go. They don't want to eat the fish, they just want to make it late for something."
To me, fishing is a lot like meditation—it's not something that I can wrap my brain around, but I'm incredibly jealous of the people who love it. They seem to get a satisfaction that I just can't reach.
But you're not here to hear my pontifications about fishing, you're here for the fish tattoos. Fish have been the subject of tattoos for as long as anybody can remember, and we have the koi to thank for that.
In Irezumi, the koi fish is a symbol of perseverance and the obstacles that one has to overcome in their life. This comes from a myth about a school of koi fish swimming upstream. As the school swam against the current, individual fish kept giving up and turning back. At the end of the river the koi had to swim up a waterfall, where most of them gave up. But one koi, one very industrious little fish, made it all the way to the top of the waterfall. The gods rewarded this koi by turning him into a dragon. Badass, right? The moral, of course, is that you need to keep working hard if you want to achieve greatness.
In the gallery below, you'll find more than a handful of koi on their journey to greatness. But you'll also find some scary angler fish tattoos, marlin tattoos, goldfish tattoos and a famous cartoon fish. Even if you don't connect to the zen feeling avid fisherman get, you're going to love these fish tattoos.